Children’s rights at the General Assembly

Date: 23rd October 2013
Category: Civil Rights and Freedoms, General measures of implementation

Violence against children, the 'scourge' of armed conflicts and children's right to be heard were some of the children's rights issues raised at the 68th session of the General Assembly in New York.

Human rights are reviewed under the Third Committee, where children's rights were debated. Below is a snapshot of some of the key children's rights issues raised. State delegates also updated the Third Committee on the children's rights situation in their countries.

  • Read a summary of these update statements here.

Violence against children

"Progress has been too slow, too uneven and too fragmented to make a genuine breakthrough in the protection of children from violence", said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais, as she delivered her annual report to the Third Committee last week. "The risk of violence against children remains present in every setting, including those where children should be safest - in schools, in care and justice institutions and also within the home," she continued.

Kirsten Sandberg, Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, emphasised that while States have made some good efforts to protect and promote children's rights, "the variations are great and there are some disturbing developments. Violence is still widespread - in the family, in schools, in institutions, as is sexual and other forms of exploitation."

The "scourge" of armed conflicts

"In many places around the world, the scourge of violent conflict continues to blight the lives of children," said Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. She cited lack of access to education and healthcare, the killing and maiming of children by use of explosive weapons and the arrest and detention of children for security offences without due process, as just some of the issues affecting children in armed conflict.

Children's right to be heard - Secretary-General

"In most societies the implementation of the right of the child to express his or her views continues to be challenged by cultural attitudes as well as political and economic barriers", according to a new report by the UN Secretary-General on the Status of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

Among other very important issues, the Secretary General's reports contain a number of references to children's right to be heard and their ability to express themselves. The report called "Follow-up to the special session of the General Assembly on children", says: "In most countries children's right to be heard has not yet been systematically integrated into the development of public policies and programmes."

Children's right to health means more than the bare bones of survival, and access to information and the ability to give informed consent are two necessary elements for children making educated decisions about what happens to their own bodies and minds. For more on children's right to access information and the right to health, see CRIN's submission for the 2013 Human Rights Council's Annual Day on the Rights of the Child.

  • Download CRIN's submission here.

All of the Secretary-General's children's rights reports to the Third Committee, including the report on "the girl child" and child protection, are available online.

  • Download the Secretary-General's reports here.